Today’s pet peeve is–surprise!–another way for hotels to wrench every nickel and dime from a guest: the hotel refrigerator sensor.
Some hotels rooms have refrigerators pre-stocked with items for hungry, thirsty, and sometimes lazy guests. Don’t get me wrong–I’m no stranger to lazy–and while hotel fridge items are overpriced, even I, penny-pinching RHOB, have been known to partake in the occasional $3.00 hotel Twix bar. I’m happy to pay a little extra for the convenience of snacking in my room without ordering room service or putting on shoes. Unless that’s the ONLY purpose of a hotel room refrigerator.
There’s a Trip Advisor chat board about Las Vegas hotel refrigerators using weighted sensors in refrigerators. Guests who so much as move a can of soda to make room for a doggie bag or bottle of wine suddenly find themselves getting a bill for MOVING–not eating–the items in the refrigerator. What’s a tourist to do?
Some advise renting an empty fridge, but that’s just more nickel-and-diming. Others recommend keeping a sink full of ice, but that makes washing one’s face a strange, cold chore. Yet another person warns about the dangers of “exploding” styrofoam coolers that are sold in local convenience stores. And more tell the complainers to get over it, since “it’s Vegas, baby!” and paying an extra $50 isn’t a big deal in the long run. No one mentioned the Indiana Jones method: switch out an item for an equally-weighted one.
The most troubling advice? Lie. Tell the hotel you need a fridge for medication, and the hotel will bring an empty one for free. People, how has it come to this? Why should people have to lie to a hotel about medical conditions, after paying hundreds of dollars a night for a room, for the “luxury” of keeping a bottle of water cold?
I haven’t come across this problem in a long time, but RHOB’s solution? Complain. Loudly. Demand an empty refrigerator or tell hotels they risk the wrath of terrible reviews on every website available. I may miss that expensive Twix bar in the middle of the night, but I’ll have a much cheaper can of iced tea to make up for it. Besides, if I’m staying in Vegas, I’ll need that extra money to get my vows renewed by an Elvis impersonator.
We encountered free wireless in every single “budget” place we stayed: B&Bs, pensions, room-over-a-garage, whatever. For a dedicated blogger, (remember those days?) free wireless was my main concern.
“Is this place clean?” Maybe. “Does it have wireless?” Yes. “Let’s book it. We’ll ignore that it’s on top of the train station.”
Then I joined Muz on business trips, and the hotels improved considerably. We stayed in places with brand names (!) with things like working elevators and lobbies. It was amazing—until I tried to get online and was informed that I needed to pay $15-$25 a day to connect.
The more you pay for a room, the more you pay for wireless. WHY!?!? Let’s examine excuses I found online:
1. Wireless charges replace the lost revenue from long-distance phone calls and pay-per-view movies.
RHOB Reaction: Resignation. It’s not fair, but I believe this one, a little. However…when was the last time hotels made a profit on long distance phone calls? 1999? Cell phones have made this all but obsolete, even abroad. Especially abroad.
2. Business travelers/companies are willing to pay anything for internet.
RHOB Reaction: Resentment. Sigh. I think this is probably correct. However, what if you’re NOT a business traveler? Surely hotels can look out for the self-employed, the tourists, and the plain old cheap. And $25 A DAY? That’s more of a rip-off than a stale bagel “continental breakfast buffet.”
Some nicer hotels offer free wireless to people who have hotel status points (usually through business travel). So, in exchange for weeks and thousands of dollars spent at your “luxury” hotel, paying for internet, you finally get something that’s free at Starbucks. Okayyyy. It’s this kind of accounting that got American bonds downgraded. Just sayin’.
3. It’s only fair to charge for internet, because not all guests use it.
RHOB reaction: Rage. This is just…insulting. Most travelers use the internet, whether it’s to check email, make travel plans, or download better movies than the hotel offers on pay-per-view. And there are lots of things that I don’t use in a hotel. Coffee makers. Shoe horns. Shower caps. Those felt things that supposedly polish shoes. No one’s knocking money off my hotel bill for leaving these items alone.
If I can get free wireless at a gas station, why can’t I get it at an upscale hotel? Of course, I’m digging my own grave with this one. Muz told me that there’s a way to avoid this problem—by only staying at the cheapest places. Double sigh…